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Vatican rebuts new charge of financial mismanagement

CWN - January 31, 2012

An Italian newspaper report, claiming that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has been caught up in a fraudulent financial scheme, is inaccurate, the Vatican has announced.

The daily Corriere della Sera ran a headline story saying that the Congregation had invested €1.6 (about $2 million) in a fund run by Gianfranco Lande, who has been charged with running a Ponzi scheme. The Vatican press office noted, however, that the funds were actually invested by Father Francesco Maria Ricci, a Dominican priest who has been the postulator for some candidates for beatification, but is not an official of the Congregation. The statement read:

Fr. Francesco Maria Ricci, who is mentioned in the article, is a Dominican religious who works on behalf of his order. He does not in any way belong to the Congregation for the Causes of Saint. It must be made clear that Postulators are 'clients' of the Congregation, with which they interact in order to promote the causes they are handling, but they are by no means part of the Congregation. It is important, then, to highlight the fact that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, its prefect Cardinal Amato and its officials are not involved in any way with the events about which the article speaks.

Father Ricci invested funds in Lande’s financial firm. The Dominican is not accused of involvement in carrying out the Ponzi scheme, although questions might be raised as to how he obtained $2 million to invest.

The Vatican’s statement on the case represented the second time in less than a week that the Holy See was forced to respond to public charges of financial mismanagement, coming shortly after a television report that alleged widespread cronyism in Vatican work contracts.

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